Two Blondes on a Build Story #3: Tackling a thorny issue & drainage

Hello friends,

I hope this finds you well and that you have been able to enjoy Christmas and other Holiday celebrations. I have been gradually catching up on editing photos and video footage for our Two Blondes on a Build video blog series, which seeks to capture our adventures in eco-homesteading on Salt Spring Island in British Columbia, Canada.

In this third story, we receive some new kit for the build, remove an invasive species and install a culvert. So put the kettle on and pour yourself a nice cup of tea, sit back, relax and join us for this episode!

The full transcript from the video

Sarah: It is autumn now on Salt Spring Island. The bright, warm, sunny days are beginning to transform slowly into magical, misty ones. The leaves on the trees are turning russet, burnt orange and yellow ochre. The maple leaves in particular are even as big as my head! The red skies at night delight us as we turn in after a hard day’s work and soon we will know that the weather will turn a little bit colder each day and we may even see snow. But for now, all is good on Isabella Point Road. The horses and donkeys in the field opposite are going about their daily business. The trail into the deep forest calls to us ever enticingly and there is our lot. We now face the daunting task of creating an access point from the roadway onto our property.

Gorse removal

Brett: So folks, there is always the question, when you first start this kind of project, do you rent equipment or do you buy? After looking at the options and the cost of rental over several months, I found that it would be cheaper to buy a second hand unit in good shape and use it until we finish all of our work and put it up for sale and that’s why we ended up going out and finding our little excavator and while we were there, I was talking to him (the dealer) about how we would get moving earth and we were trying to decide between a Bobcat or some sort of a dump unit and we ended up with our little Kioti, a nice little diesel unit, that will haul a good yard of fill in it’s box and it has a hydraulic dump on it, so that’s what we ended up buying and it gets us to where we want to go…

Well folks, here we are down on the road on the excavator. We are clearing out the ditch, which is full of an invasive species called gorse (Ulex europaeus) and you just hook onto a root as close as you can and you pull and you get a whole bank of gorse coming out on the chain behind you. Hopefully, we will get most of the roots and we will clear this mess up. It’ll clean out the ditch, it will give us a cleaner looking line on the front and this gorse is awful stuff. It is very invasive and it is awful to get into, spiky, spiky, spiky…

Sarah: And here is Captain Excavator dealing with a very prickly subject. Ten out of ten for technique. You can see that, together, we have managed to move a fair amount of gorse from over forty foot of the area and the drainage ditch is almost clear now. This was the first outing for our Yanmar and, unfortunately, we popped a track, but the ATV came in very handy for pulling the track back into place.

It’s not all work and no play

Sarah: But it’s not all work and no play you know! Every now and then, when we go into town to pick up the materials we need, we might linger awhile and enjoy a lovely Salt Spring brew or or a delicious sorbet or ice cream from Harlans chocolatier.

And then, of course, the deep forest calls to us and we must go. We stand in awe of her beauty. We feel her cool breath on our skin. We absorb every sight, every scent and every murmur. Her magic envelopes us.


Installing the culvert

Brett: So now we’ve got the excavator, out little Yanmar is ready to go and the first thing I have got to do is put in a culvert but of course I need to know where it is going to go. Originally, we thought it would be further down (the road) on our lot but we had to move all of the gorse that was there and, after pulling the gorse out, I realised that it would just be too steep to go up that way so we went back to where the pipe sat originally and looked at it and thought “This is the place”.

We need to put a culvert in because there is a stream that comes down and runs along the road in a ditch type situation and of course, you have to be able to get across it. So we bought a couple of lengths of… we needed 30 feet for sure and there are 20 foot lengths, so we put in two, twenty foot lengths of pipe and you have to dig down first, clean it up, put some good, crushed rock underneath, then we put the pipes in and fill up with, it’s called a pit-run crush all around it to build up around the pipe to make sure it doesn’t get crushed and we had to have about six inches of dirt over the top and still be level with the road. So you can see we had to dig down a bit but in the end we ended up with a perfect drive onto our property and we were ready to start building our road.

Sarah: With thanks to our neighbours Kirk and Valerie, who lent us their leaf blower, we discovered a new technique for burning green wood.

Brett: Burn, baby burn…

Sarah: “She’s a witch, burn her, burn her!” (after Monty Python’s The Holy Grail) “Right, that’s enough of that!”

(Note: that it is important for us to dispose of piles of gorse or other forms of scrub or bush that we have cleared, in order to avoid them becoming a wild fire hazard in the warmer, drier months.)

The Music

I have used some royalty free music from the YouTube Audio Library in the video and here is the running order :

  1. Autumn Day – Kevin MacLeod
  2. Arkansas Traveler – Nat Keefe and Hot Buttered Rum
  3. Autumn Sunset – Audionautix
  4. The Opening – Dan Lebowitz

We hope you enjoyed this video. We welcome comments and questions and please feel free to share this blog post and video with others. In case you missed the first two episodes, here are the links:

Two Blondes on a Build story #1: What the bleep have we done?

Two Blondes on a Build story #2: Building our tiny house

Stay tuned for more exciting Two Blondes on a Build adventures coming soon…

Thanks for watching and reading.

Peace, love and light,

Sarah xxx


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